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Harrow mosque protest cancelled after Sharia court denial
A PROTEST outside a mosque has been called off after claims it intended to hold Sharia court meetings proved false.
Thousands of people were expected to descend on Harrow Central Mosque, in Station Road, with members of far-right groups the English Defence League (EDL) and Casuals United set to attend.
But Ghulam Rabbani, general secretary of the religious establishment, this week confirmed it did not intend to hold hearings to settle low level disputes by Islamic law at its new building.
He said: “We have never considered any such plans and it is a matter of public record from our planning applications. We are confused as to why the protesters ever thought this was the case.
“The new mosque is a building which will be open to all and has been welcomed by other faith communities and we reject attempts to divide us.
“We are proud to be British, Muslim and Harrow residents, and we embrace all three of these identities.”
Bill Baker, the organisor, said: “It's been cancelled. They've made assurances that sharia courts will not be held in the building. If they go back on that then obviously we will be allowed to protest.”
He added: “If it's only going to be used for the community then good luck to them.”
A protest by the EDL in Birmingham on August 10 resulted in violent clashes between members and anti-fascist campaigners attempting to break up the demonstration.
Mr Baker told the Harrow Times ties with the EDL and Casuals United, which formed in the aftermath, were broken after the skirmishes in Birmingham.
He said: “The protest was organised by people from all walks of life, all religions and faiths – even the local Sikhs and Hindus were concerned.
“It wasn't a far-right protest. Although they might have been utilising the situation they were nothing to do with us.
“We are opposed to extremism on both sides of the political agenda.”
But the two groups both advertised the event and had said members would turn out to the demonstration sparking fears of a repeat of Birmingham.
Notices have now been uploaded to the EDL website and the British Defence Leagues' website, of which Casuals United is a part, stating the event has been cancelled.
Harrow Council had planned to meet community leaders at the mosque on Friday to discuss the issue.
Councillor Susan Hall, responsible for environment and community safety, said: “If these reports that the demonstration has been called off are true, then we are clearly pleased.
“It would appear that the Mosque's clarification that there will not be a Sharia court at the building has played a significant role in this decision.
“Harrow Council's priority is to deliver safer streets for its residents, so we will of course await further police guidance.”
Casuals United is a group for football supporters and is divided into branches based on individual clubs, with representation among QPR and Arsenal fans in London.
Mr Baker had said marshalls would be escorting protesters to the mosque from Harrow and Wealdstone station and would be on the look-out for trouble-makers.